commentary to opus 26a
Suite for Clarinet solo, op. 26a (1963)
performance: December 10, 1963, Würzburg, Aula der Mozartschule
Duration: 11 Minutes
Publisher: N. Simrock Hamburg-London (Boosey & Hawkes) ISMN: 9790221112545
the Suite for Clarinet solo, op. 26a, - in five movements: Invocation,
Interludium, Melodia, Marche grotesque and Tarantella -
Hummel presents the first of a whole series of clarinet pieces. With the scurrilous
Marche grotesque, he criticises militarism and releases himself from the
stigmatisation of having taken part in the war as a youth. In the same humorous
way as Hindemith, he pokes fun at the parade steps of the soldatesca and gives
us a foretaste of what would be given clear utterance in later years in the anti-war
piece, "The Last Flower".
Klaus Hinrich Stahmer (in "Kammermusik als persönliches Bekenntnis", Tutzing 1998)
After the pieces for clarinet solo by Igor Strawinsky, a great number of solo works for clarinet came onto the market in recent times. Only a few composers, however, attained an originality comparable to the model; indeed, one could even go so far as to say that most of the solo pieces turned out to be nothing more than musically interesting studies. An exception, that cannot be too highly praised, is therefore the Suite for Clarinet solo written in 1963 by Bertold Hummel (born 1925), currently president of the music college in Würzburg. Hummel does his work without modern antics, i.e. he does not build his work up from new sources of sound, whose discovery is for many composers enough to justify creating a new composition, to which terms such as theme or melody have lost all relevance. From Hummel's pen, we have received a suite which ill-willed critics may well call conservative, but which in its honesty towards rhythm and melody, even in age of no-longer existent musical criteria, will very likely meet with success.